Iranian Boats "Maneuver Aggressively" Close to U.S. Navy Vessels

Five Iranian boats, suspected to be from the Islamic Republic of Iran Revolutionary Guard Navy (IRGCN), ". . . demonstrated irresponsible confrontational behavior" near three U.S. Navy ships on January 6, according to a U.S. Navy statement. U.S. Navy ships USS Port Royal, USS Hopper and USS Ingraham were operating in international waters in the Persian Gulf when the incident occurred.

The U.S. Navy reports that its three ships had just finished a routine transit through the Strait of Hormuz and were ". . . steaming in formation at approximately 8 a.m." when the Iranian boats "maneuvered aggressively in close proximity of the Hopper." When this took place, the Hopper followed standard procedure, according to the U.S. Navy: "Hopper issued warnings, attempted to establish communications with the small boats and conducted evasive maneuvering."

Regarding the incident, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini Stated on Monday, January 7, "That's something normal taking place every now and then for each party and it (the problem) is settled after identification of the two parties." He went on to say that the event ". . . was similar to the past ones, "which were resolved when all parties identified themselves, and that this latest incident ". . . was a regular and natural issue."

However, the U.S. Navy claims, "Coalition vessels, including U.S. Navy ships, routinely operate in the vicinity of both Islamic Republic of Iran Navy and IRGCN vessels and aircraft, without incident." According to the U.S. Navy, "These interactions are always correct on the U.S. part and reflect a commitment to accepted tenets of international law and common practice."

**Photo: 080106-N-0000X-007 PERSIAN GULF (Jan. 6, 2008) Small craft suspected to be from the Islamic Republic of Iran Revolutionary Guard Navy (IRGCN), maneuver aggressively in close proximity of the U.S. Navy Aegis-class cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73), Aegis-class destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) and frigate USS Ingraham (FFG 61); courtesy of U.S. Navy.